Call center workforce management of the future [+WFM software uses]

Understand the role of call center workforce planning in optimizing staffing and enhancing efficiency.

Aditya Singh Rajput
December 25, 2023
11 min read

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Table of Contents

What is call center workforce management?

Call center workforce management (WFM) is the strategic approach of ensuring that agents with the right skills are available to handle the complex requirements of customers who get in touch with the organization.

Call centers are always in a state of flux. You never know when an existing customer will raise a support request to fix issues or when a new customer will come looking for more information.

Consider this: It's a typical Tuesday, and suddenly, due to a product update from the previous night, there's a surge in calls. With an efficient WFM system, instead of being caught off-guard, you can swiftly adjust, reallocating resources to ensure skilled agents handle the influx. This quick adaptability showcases the power of effective WFM.

The core purpose of WFM is to:

  • Predict call volumes accurately: Anticipating customer needs before they arise.

  • Schedule agents based on skills and availability: Ensuring the right agent handles the right query.

  • Monitor and adjust in real-time: Maintaining service levels even during unexpected call spikes.

  • Evaluate agent performance: Offering continuous feedback and growth opportunities.

For a contact center leader, WFM isn't just a tool; it's the key to balancing customer satisfaction with agent well-being and operational efficiency.

Call center WFM provides us with the tools and methodologies to:

  • Predict call volumes with accuracy.

  • Schedule agents based on their skills and availability.

  • Monitor and adjust in real time to meet service levels.

  • Evaluate agent performance and identify areas for improvement.

How does call center workforce management work?

WFM for call centers is the process of balancing the supply and demand of call center agents. It involves forecasting call volumes, scheduling agents, monitoring real-time adherence and managing the performance of the workforce. The primary goal is to balance the needs of your customers and your agents while optimizing operational efficiency.

Regardless of your situation, every WFM activity has three major steps.

1. Forecasting demand

Call centers forecast how many customer requests they might receive. They look at past trends, like how many calls or messages came in on similar days or times. This helps them predict when they might get busy and when things might slow down.

Additionally, it's essential to consider unexpected shifts in demand. For instance, sudden tech glitches or a viral social media post about a product can trigger an abrupt rise in customer interactions. Moreover, unpredicted staff shortages, perhaps due to a local event or health concerns, can alter the expected agent availability. Downtime, representing periods when agents are on the clock but not attending to customers, further muddies the forecasting waters.

To navigate these uncertainties, progressive call centers leverage live customer data and adaptive scheduling techniques. This adaptability ensures that, despite unexpected challenges, the quality of service remains high and customer needs are consistently addressed.

2. Scheduling agents

Based on the forecasted demand, call centers figure out how many agents they'll need during different hours or days. It's like putting the right players in the game when they're needed most. This approach prevents extended wait times for customers and ensures a seamless service experience.

For instance, flexible scheduling lets agents pick shifts that suit them. This makes them happier and helps them to balance work and personal time. It also means fewer surprise absences because agents are more committed to the shifts they choose.

Multi-skill scheduling is also a useful call center WFM strategy. It means agents with different talents handle different calls. So, if a customer has a tech question, they talk to a tech expert. This makes solving problems faster and avoids passing the call around. It also means every agent stays busy, and no one is overwhelmed.

Advanced scheduling strategies like these guarantee that the forecasted demand matches the actual number of available agents, ensuring smooth operations.

3. Monitoring performance and making improvements

Beyond the traditional metrics of call durations and customer satisfaction scores, there's a growing recognition of the importance of agent well-being in the call center environment. An engaged and content agent is more likely to provide exceptional service, leading to higher customer satisfaction.

Continuous calls, challenging customers and long hours can cause call center burnout, taking a toll on an agent's mental and emotional well-being. Recognizing the signs of burnout early and addressing them is crucial for maintaining a healthy workforce.

Modern WFM tools and strategies now incorporate features that prioritize agent well-being. For instance, shift bidding allows agents to have a say in their schedules, giving them a sense of control and flexibility. Comprehensive leave management ensures agents get adequate rest and can take time off when needed, reducing the chances of burnout.

Another aspect that plays into agent well-being is the provision of regular feedback and opportunities for growth. Regular training sessions, workshops and feedback mechanisms ensure agents are continuously learning and growing in their roles. This not only enhances their skills but also boosts their morale and job satisfaction.

So, WFM in call centers involves predicting demand, creating schedules and keeping a close watch on performance. This way, both your customers and your agents can have a smoother and more satisfying experience.

Interesting read:What is Workforce Management (WFM)?

How workforce planning enhances call center efficiency

Workforce planning in call centers ensures the right number of agents are available without overstaffing or understaffing. This balance is vital. The presence of too many agents can lead to idle time and high costs, while too few cause long wait times and customer frustration.

Managing the workforce of a call center is a continuous task that involves analyzing historical data, predicting call patterns and call management. This helps allocate the right number of agents during busy and slow hours. The outcome is improved customer experience and a motivated workforce.

Optimized call center scheduling is a key aspect to ensure skilled agents are available when needed. This minimizes idle time and boosts efficiency. This further leads to happier customers and smoother operations.

With the rise of remote working, WFM tools have become indispensable. They offer managers clear visibility into their remote agents’ availability and activities. This transparency ensures that, regardless of where agents are located, they can be effectively managed to maintain consistent service levels.

Real-time mechanisms in WFM

Modern WFM systems are equipped with advanced real-time mechanisms designed to provide instant feedback and insights:

  1. Real-time adherence monitoring: This feature tracks whether agents adhere to their assigned schedules. If an agent takes a break longer than scheduled or misses a shift, managers are instantly alerted.

  2. Queue monitoring: Managers can view the number of calls waiting in a queue in real time. If there's a sudden spike in call volume, they can make immediate staffing adjustments.

Advanced call center scheduling

Advanced scheduling in WFM goes beyond just assigning shifts. It includes:

  1. Multi-skill scheduling: Agents with multiple skills can be scheduled to handle different types of calls based on demand. This ensures that specialized queries are directed to agents with the right expertise.

  2. Shift bidding: Agents can bid for preferred shifts, giving them a sense of autonomy and control over their schedules.

  3. Flexible scheduling: This allows agents to swap shifts or adjust their schedules, accommodating personal commitments while ensuring the call center remains adequately staffed.

One of the standout benefits of WFM is its role in helping support teams uphold their Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and service quality standards.

Addressing operational challenges through alerts and reports

For call center leaders, having access to detailed reports is invaluable. These reports present a clear picture of operational metrics, allowing leaders to identify and address areas of concern.

For example, if there's an unusual increase in dropped calls or if a particular agent's performance is not up to the mark, such issues can be quickly identified.

Additionally, real-time alerting systems serve as an early warning mechanism for leaders. Receiving timely notifications about potential issues or deviations enables them to take corrective actions promptly. This proactive approach ensures that operations remain seamless and efficient, upholding the high standards expected in call centers.

Running a call center is like orchestrating a complex dance. Every time a customer contacts the call center, it's crucial to pair them with the agent best equipped to assist them. If a customer has a technical query, they should be seamlessly connected to a tech-savvy agent.

On the other hand, billing concerns should go straight to someone familiar with accounts. It's all about ensuring that each caller is directed to the right expert, right from the start. Just imagine a library where every book is perfectly sorted; a visitor can instantly find the exact book they're looking for.

Benefits of effective call center workforce management

Without effective call center workforce planning, every day is a new challenge in call centers. You never know when customer service requests will increase or decrease. This causes a mismatch between the resources deployed and the amount of work in the call center. Effective WFM practices help maintain an optimal agent-to-call ratio.

While there are many benefits to effective call center workforce planning, here are some of the most useful ones:

1. Improved customer service and satisfaction

When customers reach out to a call center, they expect prompt and effective resolutions. A well-organized workforce ensures that you have the right mix of experience and new hires to address customer queries with the best solutions. This, in turn, improves the quality of customer service in a call center and promotes brand loyalty.

2. Efficient resource allocation and cost savings

Workforce planning eliminates the guesswork from staffing decisions. By accurately predicting call volumes and staffing needs, call centers can optimize resource allocations, minimizing unnecessary expenses associated with overstaffing while avoiding the opportunity cost of understaffing.

3. Enhanced agent well-being and reduced churn

A well-planned workforce strategy prioritizes agent well-being. By ensuring agents aren't overworked and have balanced schedules, call centers can reduce burnout and improve job satisfaction. This not only enhances the overall well-being of agents but also reduces staff turnover, leading to consistent service quality and reduced recruitment costs.

Agile response to demand fluctuations

Effective WFM allows call centers to swiftly adapt to sudden changes in call volumes. Whether it's an unexpected surge due to a product launch or a seasonal dip, having a flexible workforce strategy ensures that call centers can quickly adjust, maintaining service quality and operational efficiency.

With these benefits in mind, it becomes clear why effective WFM is crucial for call centers. Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of the potential benefits, let's delve deeper into the key components of call center workforce planning.

Enhancing call center operations: Workforce planning and management software

In the dynamic environment of call centers, striking a balance between customer demand and agent availability is paramount. This balance is achieved through meticulous workforce planning, which is significantly enhanced by the capabilities of workforce management software.

Here's a deep dive into the synergy between these two:

Accurate forecasting

Forecasting serves as the foundation for effective workforce planning. By analyzing historical data, seasonal trends and upcoming company events, call centers can anticipate call volume fluctuations.

WFM software refines this process, utilizing advanced statistical algorithms to offer highly accurate forecasts, ensuring preparedness for any demand scenario.

Workforce forecasting for workforce management

Staffing optimization

Once the demand is forecasted, the next challenge is determining the right number of agents to meet it. WFM software aids in this by analyzing past call patterns and other pertinent data. This ensures that call centers are always adequately staffed, avoiding the pitfalls of both overstaffing and understaffing.

Staffing optimization in workforce management

Streamlined scheduling and intra-day management

Call center scheduling goes beyond merely assigning shifts. It's about aligning agent availability with anticipated call volumes. WFM software automates this, factoring in agent preferences, skills and predicted call volumes.

A call center WFM software's intra-day management capabilities allow for real-time schedule adjustments, catering to unexpected changes in demand or agent availability.

Staff scheduling in workforce management

Real-time monitoring and adherence

Operational efficiency hinges on the alignment between planned schedules and actual agent activities. WFM software offers real-time visibility into this, enabling prompt interventions in case of deviations.

Its reporting features provide insights into call concurrency, while proactive alerts help preempt potential issues, ensuring smooth operations.

Product support queue in workforce management

Also read: Important call center agent performance metrics to track

Performance insights and continuous improvement

Beyond scheduling, workforce planning is about fostering continuous improvement. WFM software offers detailed performance analytics, shedding light on agent productivity, customer satisfaction and overall call center efficiency.

These insights drive data-informed decisions, facilitating strategy refinements and service enhancements.

Forecast adherence in workforce management

Dive deeper: The ultimate guide to call center quality assurance

Agility in response and skill-based matching

Call centers often face sudden changes, be it unexpected call spikes or unplanned agent absences. WFM software ensures agility in such scenarios, allowing swift schedule and resource adjustments.

It ensures calls are directed to agents based on their specific skills and expertise, optimizing problem resolution and boosting customer satisfaction.

Transitioning from legacy systems to modern efficiency with Sprinklr

Legacy systems like spreadsheets and Erlang C calculators have long been the backbone of WFM in call centers. However, these dated systems often produce erroneous results due to their inability to handle the complexities of modern call center operations.

For instance, Erlang C, a mathematical calculation developed over a century ago, has limitations such as:

  • Assuming a steady call rate and a zero-abandonment rate.

  • Not considering blocking or contact priority.

  • Being unable to account for multi-skilled agents or multi-channel interactions.

  • Often resulting in over-staffing.

Given these challenges, there's a pressing need for a more advanced solution. Enter Sprinklr's workforce management software.

Sprinklr's AI-driven technology aids call center leaders in understanding historical data and service targets, ensuring efficient workforce planning. Here's how Sprinklr stands out:

  • Advanced forecasting: Sprinklr leverages historical data to effectively forecast future case volumes, handling times and SLAs across all channels. It also provides the flexibility to incorporate event-based adjustments into predictions, ensuring that forecasting is both an art and a science.

  • Capacity Planning: By determining the necessary staffing levels using data-driven tools, Sprinklr ensures optimal staffing for various timeframes, leading to cost reductions and efficient hiring plans.

  • Staffing Simulations: Sprinklr can run detailed simulations for various metrics like shrinkage, average handling time and SLAs, creating customized workforce requirements for efficient scheduling.

The modern call center environment is intricate. Leaders face challenges like adaptive staffing levels, multi-channel customer engagement and heightened customer expectations. To navigate these complexities, they need powerful workforce management solutions. Sprinklr, with its advanced features, ensures that call centers are equipped to deliver exceptional customer service while optimizing operational costs.

In conclusion, mastering call center workforce planning is pivotal for delivering top-notch customer service. By leveraging modern workforce management software like Sprinklr, call centers can transform into efficient customer satisfaction hubs, ensuring every interaction leaves a lasting positive impression.

To dive deeper into the power of call center workforce planning and learn about the transformative capabilities of workforce management software, book a Sprinklr demo today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Call center workforce management involves accurately forecasting call volumes, calculating staffing requirements, creating efficient schedules and monitoring real-time adherence to optimize operations.

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